Buzzword...Program...or Reality?

Our nation thrives on what's popular. We (North) Americans are a nation of consumers. This has become the earmark of our culture and the engine of our economy.

Sadly, the American church often reflects this consumerist identity.

People seek churches and ministries that appeal to them, and churches and ministries get trapped into making themselves more appealing.

What are we following?

Have we become followers of what's popular rather than Jesus?

If so, are we any different from Israel during the days of the kings and prophets?

God's indictment of Israel was their whoring after lesser gods (Ezek 16:8-22). Even as the Lord spoke through Jeremiah,

“My people have done two things wrong. They have abandoned me, the fountain of life-giving water. They have also dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that can’t hold water." (Jer 2:13 GW)

If so, it is a far cry from what God intends for those who claim to be followers of Jesus.

Denying ourselves and dying to self in order to follow Jesus is not so popular (Matt 16:24) today. Our American culture can be characterized as an i-culture.

Denying ourselves and dying to self to follow Jesus is not popular today

Just a buzzword?

The topic of discipleship is once again popular, along with being missional. But I wonder if discipleship is just another Christian buzzword?

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to see discipleship become a popular focus for the church, and there is genuine discipleship taking place in many places.

Plenty of pastors and leaders claim to hold to the New Testament model of church. But what is this venerated New Testament model?

I wonder if discipleship is just another Christian buzzword?

The heart of discipleship

Here's what I know and hold as a follower of Jesus—discipleship should be the engine that drives the church forward in its God-given purpose.

Yes, of course, the Holy Spirit is the One who empowers the church as a whole and each believer. No question about that.

I'm speaking of how the church functions as a community in the world, on a day-to-day basis.

The church is a community of believers following Jesus, both individually and corporately. Our primary leader is Jesus (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Cor 12:12). This is the heart of discipleship.

Discipleship should be the engine driving the church forward in its God-given purpose

Not a program

Discipleship is not a program, nor a curriculum (or catechism). It is much simpler and more personal.

Jesus gave us His model of discipleship by example (Matt 4:18-22; 9:35–10:4).

We see this in the early church, and the apostle Paul gave many examples, exhortations, and instructions on discipleship. Paul followed Jesus and His model (2 Tim 2:1-2; 3:14-15).

So, do we choose to follow what is popular or follow Jesus? It can't be both ways.

What about you?

How would you describe what discipleship is (or isn't)?

What are your experiences with discipleship and mentoring?

Next week I want to look into the story of Jesus restoring Peter, at the end of the Gospel of John (John 21:15-19). I see some clear guidelines for a simple model of discipleship as Jesus modeled it.

Thanks for reading and sharing!